Maybe athletes should stick to talking about sports, rather than current events.
In a new interview in Rolling Stone magazine, tennis star Serena Williams was quoted partially blaming the victim of the Steubenville rape case for what happened.
The case which rocked the small Ohio town a few months ago found two boys guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party and distributing compromising photos of her.
During Williams’ interview with Rolling Stone, the boys, members of the local high school football team, happened to appear on a television screen and Williams decided to give her opinion on the case.
“Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know,” she said. “I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember?”
Williams goes on to say that it could have been much worse and that the victim is “lucky.” “I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
Her remarks were met with a lot of criticism online, indicating that alcohol abuse is irrelevant in this case and that she’s not “lucky” because she got raped.
After the controversial remarks went viral, Williams released a statement Wednesday morning clarifying what she said.
What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved – that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reading out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was writing in the Rolling Stone article. What was written – what I supposedly said – is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.
I have fought all of my career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights, respect in their fields – anything I could do to support women I have done. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child.”
Rolling Stone reporter Stephen Rodrick told Poynter that “the interview is on tape. Other than that, I’ll let the story speak for itself.”
Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on Twitter @marygeorgant